Small Business Resolutions for the New Year

It's that time of year when everyone is setting goals and making resolutions. Don't leave your business out of the loop. For some, it might be time to do a new business plan altogether, but if that is not your schedule, it is still a good time to set a new goal or two for your business success. The motivation factor is high, it's a new year and new opportunities and beginnings are in the air.

To get started, ask yourself "What's the one thing I could do to increase the success of my business?" Most people already know the answer to this question and often, it's the one thing you've been putting off because you dread it, you are not comfortable with it or you truly have no idea how to proceed. Resolve to tackle that "monster" once and for all right now.

Common answers to the "One Thing" question include: better marketing, more advertising, get more customers, add new products, bring in more revenue, and other "growth" issues. Sometimes, the answer is hire more help, train employees, improve company benefits, and other Human Resources issues. Or, it could be that you need someone to keep up with bills, receipts and do the taxes so you can concentrate on the sales and operations of your business.

Once you decide on one to two things to focus on, the "resolution" is just the beginning. You may "resolve" to increase your sales by 10% this year, but then what? If "resolving" were all you had to do, I'd be rid of all my bad habits already. The reality is the resolution is an intention, a desire, even a determination, but without a plan to back it up, failure is likely because "wishing don't make it so".

One or two ideas or projects are really enough to focus on. You may have a list of ten things you want to do, but choose the most important or most urgent for right now. Too many will only overwhelm you and thwart your chances for success. Focusing on even one great goal at a time increases your odds of succeeding. There will be time for the others later, and once you go through the process of learning how to achieve your goals, you can tackle them all – one or two at a time.

To determine those one or two things, spend some time daydreaming. What would really help you succeed? Imagine your typical day and then imagine your “dream” day—what is the difference? The difference is where you need to focus your energy to bring your dream day into reality.

Once you spotlight some differences, turn them into goals. Anything is fair game.

Here are some examples:

If I could get up earlier, I could spend one hour working on invoicing before the phones start to ring and then I’d have my evenings free. If I could meet more people who sell houses, my staging business would have more customers. I need creative ideas to keep the kids busy from 3 to 5 so that I can write proposals without constant interruption. I need better accounting procedures because the receipt box is a mess and it will take me two weeks to do taxes this year.

Each of these presents an opportunity to create solutions that work. Often, just knowing and clarifying the problem brings the solution with it. Frequently, a more detailed plan of action is required. Our next article will focus on creating action plans to achieve your goals.

I wish you many blessings and much success in 2006!